2213: How Old

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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How Old
We've met! I remember you when you were thiiiis tall! [*holds a hand an inch above their head*]
Title text: We've met! I remember you when you were thiiiis tall! [*holds a hand an inch above their head*]


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by an someone with problems with social interactions. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Another comic of the tips type, this time regarding one of Randall's problems, social interactions, thus adding an interaction tip.

White Hat introduces his dad to Cueball, who then copies a reaction which is more typical for people being introduced to children, by saying Aww, how old is he?

When introduced to a young kid, saying "aww" is accepted as normal, because the speaker thinks the little child is cute. The speaker also wishes both to know the age of the kid, and to give the kid a chance to answer this question.

But the other way around this would feel very awkward, and Randall, pretending to be very awkward around other (normal) people, continues to make this type of comic about problems with social interactions. Hence for other with his problems this comic gives an interaction tip in the caption, letting you know that How Old? is only a common question to ask when introduced to parents kids, not to "kids" parents (i.e. grown-up kids parents). Hence the title of the comic. And excellent example of how Randall also doesn't know how to speak with people with children can be seen in 1650: Baby.

White Hat's father is wearing a sailor cap like the old version of Cueball in 572: Together and as other old people both in 586: Mission to Culture and 1910: Sky Spotters.

In the title text Cueball continues down the road to awkwardness by saying other things normally reserved for kids. Here he notes that he has actually met White Hat's father before, but so long ago that he since has changed height. For Kids this usually means they have grown taller, but old people, who has long stopped growing, will over time become more compressed and lose height. So apart from saying that he remembers when White Hat's father was thiiiis tall, he also holds his hand an inch (2.54 cm) above the fathers head to indicate this age related loss of height. For a kid he would of course have held his hand some centimetres below the top of the head instead.

This interaction would be really embarrassing for the father and White Hat, as being made aware of the on-setting age, is usually not something people like to get in their face by someone they hardly know.


[White Hat holds his hand out towards a man with a sailor-cap standing to the left in the image while addressing Cueball standing to the right.]
White Hat: I'd like you to meet my dad.
Cueball: Aww, how old is he?
[Caption below the panel:]
Interaction tip: This is a common question to ask parents about their kids, but for some reason in the other direction it's weird.

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Interestingly enough this comic is actually not about feeling old... Even with this title. Was all surprised :-) --Kynde (talk) 09:37, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

Well for many elderly people it is quite a nuisance to be treated like a little kid, especially when in retirement homes. While some might enjoy childish activities, for others, especially those whose mental state may be better than their physical, it is very annoying to be "forced" to play children games. That, and that being treated like a kid, kinda makes them notice their age even more. So even though this doesn't make the reader old (unless the reader is at an age where being treated similar to a child is a regular experience), it might make Cueballs dad feel old. --Lupo (talk) 09:42, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
For adults, especially Women, it is often considered rude to ask for their age. Whereas for kids, and to a lesser extent for elderly adults, it can be considered polite to ask about their age. In the case of kids, they are very aware of their age and how it relates to others, and are usually happy to talk about it. For the elderly, their age can be a source of pride if many of their peers have died but they are still in relatively good health. -boB (talk) 17:14, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

"I'd like you to meet my $foo."
"Aww, what's [ten times] the natural logarithm of their age?"
JohnHawkinson (talk) 11:21, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

You mean the base 10 logarithm or the ln? -- (talk) 23:13, 9 October 2019 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Well, '.252, I think "natural logarithm" is pretty clear. It means ln. In this case, I chose the natural log because human development is far more rapid around age 2.718281828 than it is around age 10. So a deciln() of 10 or 20 or 30 corresponds to an e-year-old, a 7 year-old, or a 20-year-old. Whereas in base 10, it'd be a 10-year-old, a 100-year-old, or a 1000-year-old. That's a lot less useful. I also like the idea of a negative deciln() indicating a person who probably can't meaningfully speak. If the max human lifetime is 160 years, a deciln() gives a range from -58 to 51, which is a more helpful than base ten range of -25 to 22. Contrariwise, I agree that a range -100 to +100 has some appeal, which would suggest a base of 1.6611, but since that's not a common log base, I did not suggest it. JohnHawkinson (talk) 23:57, 9 October 2019 (UTC)
+1! I really like this idea! John.Adriaan (talk) 04:23, 10 October 2019 (UTC)
a deciln would be a tenth of a ln, not ten times.
Yes, a better name would be decalog. Tracy Hall (talk) 03:42, 15 October 2019 (UTC)

While old people may indeed become more "compressed" (as per current version of explanation - skeletal or specifically spinal one presumes, though head hair might be flatter and less prominent) perhaps the word "stooped" would be better, as it covers a dec(/inc)line of posture (involuntary or passively voluntary spinal curveture converting youthful height into a lean, bandied/steadying sacrificing verticality legs, hunching of the kneck, lessening of chest inflation and general hunching) as well as the age-related joint compression and bone decalcification effects. (Another possible reference is that the one remembering how high the person was might have been shorter themselves the last time they could have held their hand up to a given height, so their self-centric relative measure is now overheight to the 'datum' of the already matured person in front of them. But I actually do think that elder-shrinkage is the actual intention of the words, if it's just one thing.) 15:39, 9 October 2019 (UTC)

When someone asks my age I: 1) tell them it's classified -- especially in a work or interview situation where it's none of their business 2) tell them how old my brain thinks I am (24) 3) tell them my real age only if we're already seriously in a committed relationship Cellocgw (talk) 12:47, 21 October 2019 (UTC)

Randall's relatives

Given Randall's inclination to use a sailor's cap to represent older relatives, I wonder if his father was a sailor? John.Adriaan (talk) 04:23, 10 October 2019 (UTC)

Also, that might be the influence of his time in the Hampton Roads area. With a major shipyard and Naval Station Norfolk in the area, I'm sure there's a lot of Navy influence. 13:53, 11 October 2019 (UTC)

Isn't there some joke about the flirting that can imply? I'm surprised no one took it up. 10:57, 16 October 2019 (UTC)Zyramere